Released: 2012, AFM
Back in September, 2012 I took a look at some new, underground Italian Power Metal bands in a five CD review feature. This month we are going to look back at 2012 and some of the titans of Italian Power Metal who released albums this year. They are Elvenking, Rhapsody, Skylark, Thy Majestie, and White Skull. I call them ‘titans’ because all these bands have been around for 15 years or more and are all in that 5 - 9 album zone…pretty impressive! We also reviewed the new Secret Sphere and Vision Divine last month who also meet this criteria. Enjoy!
I’ve been hit or miss on Elvenking for several years. The first three albums were excellent folk-inspired Power Metal. The disastrous and experimental 4th album ‘The Scythe’ (with it’s metalcore inspired delivery) soured my relationship with the band. Following that misstep with an acoustic album made it even worse and RED SILENT TIDES while an improvement was still slightly tainted by the ‘core’ . I’m finally back on board with ERA, album number seven.
Part of the problem with the band is the inconsistency. The band in 12 years has had about 17 people come and go with only the guitarist, Aydan, remaining from the original line-up. The band took a pretty big hit losing it’s decade-old rhythm section; longtime drummer, Zender has left and was replaced by Symohn and bassist Gorian is out and newcomer Jakob is in. Whatever they are doing now is working although I still prefer Damnagoras old singing style a bit better, his new delivery sounds too ‘rock’ oriented for my tastes for a band of this style. The band seemed to have nicely reconciled their desire to be catchy and melodic with their folk/power roots and I think on ERA have found that nice blend, albeit a weird mix. Some songs are so rocky and radio-oriented, such as ‘Midnight Skies, Winter Sighs’ but then they throw in the fiddle and a hint of whispered harsh vocals and a driving beat overtop the catchy chorus and melody line, it’s makes for a very diverse listening experience. Maybe this is the signature sound the band has been searching for maybe even inching towards Skyclad. The other regular components of an Elvenking album are present, the acoustic elements, some female vocals, fiddle and/or violin and even a jaunty little acoustic piece called ‘A Song For The People’.
I’ve sat on this album before reviewing it but it certainly has grown on me. The chorus of ‘We, Animals’ is just huge, instantly memorable and there are many good hooks littered across the songs, and the crunchy guitar gives it just enough bite and the violin just adds that audio-spice that makes this album very intriguing. I think this is the perfect blend of their two styles, cutting back on the weaker ‘core’ elements that alienated the original Metal fans like me but still bringing the huge soaring melodies. Welcome back!